Whether you forgot about a bottle you slid into the freezer to cool or want to transform leftover rosé into frosé, and there comes a time when you think, “Wait. Does wine freeze?”
The short answer is yes. If kept below a certain temperature for enough time, wine freezes.
“Wine, like all liquids, will change phases from liquid to solid when subjected to low enough temperatures,” says Byron Elmendorf, head winemaker at Macari Vineyards. “Although wine contains a dazzling array of organic compounds, it is the water and alcohol that mostly determine the freezing point of wine.”
The trick is to avoid freezing a beloved bottle accidentally. Or, if you intend to freeze your wine, how to create the right conditions to do so safely.
At What Temperature Does Wine Freeze?
Wine freezes between 15–25°F, depending on its alcohol by volume (abv) and other factors. This is lower than the freezing point of water (32°F), and higher than the temperature needed for liquors like vodka to become solid (below 16.6°F).
Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water. So, the boozier your bottle, the colder it will need to freeze.
Most wines have between 11–13% abv. Red wines contain more alcohol than white, rosé, and sparkling bottles.
The sugar content can also affect a wine’s freezing point.
“Dissolved sugar will lower the freezing point of a liquid, so sweet and dessert wines will also tend to freeze at much lower temperatures,” says Elmendorf.
How Long Does It Take Wine to Freeze?
Wine will freeze in approximately five hours if your freezer is set at or below 0°F, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends. Its consistency will be compromised within 1–3 hours as the water molecules within the wine start to solidify.
Does Freezing Wine Ruin It?
A wine that has frozen is safe to drink, but its aromas, flavors, and nuances will be irrevocably altered. It isn’t ideal for freezing a wine with sentimental or economic value. Still, frozen wine isn’t necessarily “the end of the world,” says Kevin Farber, sommelier at Restaurant Latour and Crystal Springs Resort Wine Cellar in Hamburg, New Jersey.
“Let the wine thaw and warm up to service temperature, and then taste the wine,” he says. “If it is still enjoyable, even if [it’s] not expressing exactly as it should, fill up your glass.”
Elmendorf agrees. “It depends on the extent of the freezing, but to be honest, I’d rather see most wines subjected to a brief period of cold temperature than hot… That said, completely freezing a wine certainly could drive other undesirable changes.”
When Should You Freeze Wine?
Freezing the remainder of a bottle of wine that might otherwise go to waste is a great way to give it life.
“Leftover wine that is not going to be drunk can be frozen into ice cubes as a convenient way to have cooking wine on hand without opening a new bottle,” says Elmendorf.
Frozen pours can also be used to make frosé, friesling, sangria slushies or any blended drink with wine as a base.
Best Methods to Freeze Wine
Even if you’re blessed with unlimited freezer space, you should never put an entire bottle of wine into your freezer.
“Just like an ice cube expands above the level that it was poured to as water, the water in the wine will expand as it freezes, risking either compromising the closure—pushing out a cork or breaking the seal of a screw cap—or even shattering the bottle,” says Elmendorf.
Sparkling wine bottles are especially dangerous in the freezer since their contents are already pressurized.
Instead, pour the wine into freezer-safe containers or ice cube trays and leave ample room for expansion. Within a few hours, your frozen wine will be ready for whatever adventure awaits.